Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.
But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.
Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana's life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.
But things aren't going according to Jana's plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.
OPINION: 3 STARS
The Short Version:
Fresh in concept and witty overall, Dead Rules definitely puts a unique spin on life after death. Though the characters came off as flat many times, and there was an overall lack of voice for this reader, it's a well put together mix of mystery and a new existence. With some very interesting elements mixed in, and classifications that are easy to understand and get behind, Russell's debut shows promise.
The Extended Version:
Jana is admittedly annoying a little too much, too focused on and obsessed with the idea of her perfect relationship with her boyfriend, but she also has a strong internal drive that overrides this often. Though blind in some ways to things, but very willing to experience and take in others, Jana has many aspects about her that will resonate with readers. Her frustration and determination come through in a strong way, and the development she goes through will leave a lasting impression on readers.
Mars is well done overall, and though a little more depth to him would have made him a highly memorable character, he still stands to be remembered in a positive manner. Tormented in all the right ways, with a solid motivation behind his actions, Mars definitely puts the sexy and enticing into ghosts. Able to strengthen Jana as well, Mars is easily one of the best aspects of this book.
The remainder of the characters fall into various categories, be it the looks into the lives of those Jana has left behind, and other ghosts that she now encounters. The various stories of how people died are intriguing and original, though beyond this look, many of the characters were admittedly flat and not as well fleshed out as they could have been.
The concept of this one is very interesting, although the first chunk of the book comes off as a little too question then answer, telling more than showing in terms of the world Jana now finds herself in along with its confines and restraints. Though there are certain aspects of this world to be explored, the actual reveal of many of them wasn't as gripping as it could have been. Though the murder mystery aspect was not strong enough to carry the book, and was washed out by everything else, it was well put together, unique in presentation, and well motivated overall.
While there was a lack of voice given the genre, Russell's writing is solid and interesting. Despite being written in third person, Russell does a remarkable job of avoiding mind jumping while letting the reader get fully into Jana's head, and giving looks at other characters in sections all their own as needed. The alternations and transitions are smooth and easy to follow, building on the overall plot at a steady rate. This, mixed with the very fresh concept, lends Dead Rules to be a promising debut that is quick but enjoyable to read.
Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publication Date: June 21, 2011